Industry 4.0 – A great time to leverage the ‘Perfect Storm’

It’s easy to understand how the past 3 industrial revolutions have laid a foundation that has advanced us to our present state which has been termed, the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’.  We’ve progressed to a point where technology is continuously integrated into our industry and supply chain environments enabling our growing world and populations to receive better goods and services as quickly as possible. 

How we got here:

  • The 1700’s invention of ‘steam’ created mechanization of industries enabling profound advances in urbanization. 
  • The 1800’s invention of electricity caused a multitude of scientific advancements leading to our earliest ‘consumer spending’ and increased consumptive economic impacts. 
  • The 1900’s brought computing and software sophistication laying a solid foundation and readiness for more robust capabilities.  Increased automation has empowered humans with astounding rapidity to consume more goods and services with a resulting outcome being a vast storehouse of data.   
  • The 2000’s have brought about a convergence of emerging technologies along with mobile telecommunications agility to a startling ‘disruption’ factor in countless industries.  

Technological progress continues to accelerate at dizzying speeds and no matter our generational demographic we’ve developed a ravenous appetite for all things technology is creating.

Covid-19 has accelerated the need for companies to make use of data and adopt digital applications in order to stay competitive and survive through this storm. Industries, where time has almost stood still during the last 50 years, are now in drastic need of an overhaul and are ripe for a digital technology tune-up. 

Ingredients of the recipe called “Disruption”: artificial intelligence (AI), quantum & cloud computing, robotics, blockchain and ‘cybersecurity’, 3D printing, energy capture and delivery (5G).

Shake well then… Oh yes, add the ‘extra flavour’ ingredient of the outcomes caused by Corona Virus and VOILA …

Where in the past, technology has been out-of-reach for most businesses due to the cost and complexities; the technology has matured now, to inclusion as part of ‘standard’ business technology applications and is now readily accessible at negligible costs. This change will create a shift in training our workforces for the ‘smart’ jobs of the future. 

Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum, is a leading expert on industrial revolutions and is responsible for naming the ‘4th IR’.  In a 2016 article, Schwab wrote that “like the revolutions that preceded it, the Fourth Industrial Revolution has the potential to raise global income levels and improve the quality of life for populations around the world.” 

Schwab points out that future technological innovation will lead to phenomenal supply chain gains in efficiency and productivity, however creating dramatically impactful changes within our workforce composition. 

Covid-19 has shown us that we cannot afford to be without ‘local’ supply chain foundations, especially the manufacturing of all ‘essential goods and services’.   

Last week, a national grocery store chain announced the use of robotics in their distribution centre facilities… the ‘future of work’ is arriving much more quickly than we may realize! 

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